Free Wi-Fi might be one of the most important amenities in the modern hotel, but it is no longer enough to keep guests satisfied. Today’s guest wants to stream Netflix, connect with loved ones back home via social media, and talk to hotel staff using their mobile devices. Gone are the days when such things were optional perks at high-end hotels. Guests now expect the same conveniences at hotels that they would have at home.
Without further ado, here are five ways hotel technology can improve the guest experience.
Mobile or kiosk check-in and check-out
Travelers who have just arrived after a long flight or train journey don’t want to stand in line for 20 minutes while front desk staff deliver a lengthy spiel to all the guests in front of them. Some guests may want to speak to a real person, but for those that don’t, hotels can make mobile check-in and keyless room entry an option. This allows guests to skip the line, quickly get their key, and go up to their room without ever interacting with hotel staff.
Automated guest rooms
Key-enabled lighting, motion-activated air conditioning, and curtains controlled by a panel next to the bed are all ways hotel rooms can be automated. Such features make rooms more comfortable and convenient for guests. For example, if a guest wants to sleep late on a sunny morning, they don’t even have to get out of bed. They can use the panel next on the bedside table to close the curtains.
Bring-your-own-device and streaming
Now that the majority of adults in the U.S. owns a smart device of some kind, be it a mobile phone or a tablet, televisions in hotel rooms are becoming obsolete. Guests don’t need a television when they can stream Netflix or YouTube on their laptops. The only thing the hotel needs to provide in this case is fast, reliable Wi-Fi — preferably free — as many travelers will not book at a hotel that does not offer it. Hoteliers who want to ensure that there is some kind of entertainment option available in-room might consider streaming Netflix or Hulu to guestroom televisions.
Robotic concierges and delivery bots
Robotic hotel staff are already a reality in some hotels. In Japan, the Henn-na Hotel is almost completely staffed by robots, including a velociraptor at the front desk. At the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, a robot named Botlr delivers items to guests’ rooms. And Connie, the robot concierge powered by IBM’s Watson A.I., is now available to answer guest questions at the Hilton McLean in Virginia.
The novelty of such robots is bound to delight guests, but by allowing robots to take over a role traditionally held by humans, guests can have their requests filled faster. There’s a bonus for hotels as well: it can help reduce resource-related costs, as it allows hotel staff to focus on more important tasks while the robots do the grunt work. That said, hotels must remember to balance bot technology with genuine service. Robots cannot completely replace the role of humans in the guest experience!
According to research from Pew Internet, text messaging is the most widely used feature or app on the smartphone, with 97 percent of smartphone owners using it at least once per week. Millennials in particular are more likely to text than call — in the span of two years, voice communication by Millennials dropped by 300 minutes, while the volume of texts doubled during the same period.
Perhaps most relevant to hotels: research from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research determined that approximately one-third of hotel guests would like to use text messaging to request an amenity from the front desk. And as Millennials become the largest demographic in the workforce, this number will only rise.
Yet despite the increasing importance of guest messaging in the hotel experience, many hotels have been reluctant to adopt this technology. What is clear, however, is that hotel texting is convenient for guests — they can message the hotel from anywhere, at any time, and have their requests fulfilled quickly and efficiently.